“No matter how much we meditate or pray, we still need others to help us dismantle the walls of our isolation and remind us of our belonging.” – Tara Brach
A couple of years ago I was leading a work-life balance retreat for a group of twenty very successful female executives from around the US. As I was teaching about self-care, one of the younger attendees raised her hand and said she just didn’t get the concept of emotional self-care (which I describe as “the care and feeding of your heart”). She said she thought women were supposed to be strong, armored and hold it together –no matter what.
The room became very quiet. It was clear that this beautiful woman had been taught that sharing her humanity was a liability. Her modus operandi for years had been to check her feelings at the door before she walked into work. And, to make sure she didn’t “bother” others with her personal issues.
I think many of us could relate.
Last week was unusually stressful. But after attending an entrepreneur mastermind meeting, gathering with some moms from our school community and enjoying special time with a girlfriend over the weekend–I had morphed into a different person. Had my external circumstances changed? No, but my mood increased dramatically and I gained some much-needed perspective simply by being with others who made me feel more connected—to myself, to my family and to everyone around me. Research shows women are particularly impacted by these types of connections: we release oxytocin (the cuddle hormone) when we circle up for heart-felt dialogue and our serotonin levels rise, as well.
One of my mom’s favorite songs in the 1970s was I Am a Rock by Simon and Garfunkel (“I am a rock, I am an island,”). Growing up I watched how often she would isolate herself from others and try to navigate all the ups and downs of motherhood, parenting and work–alone. Today, my heart is filled with compassion for her. And, I’m clear this is not how we’re supposed to live.
The older I get, the more I desire to show up “human” and vulnerable in my interactions–both personal and professional. I believe this is our birthright and not only is it essential to overall health and well-being, it’s critical to our growth and evolution.
I want to be an advocate, a model and a teacher for how we can all be more interconnected—both when we’re struggling and when we’re on top of the world. Because this coming together and leaning on each other is what’s it’s all about–isn’t it?
Homework: This week notice a time when you feel overwhelmed, isolated or sad. What is your habitual response? Perhaps if you tend to hole up, try reaching out to a friend or colleague for a walk, phone call or cup of tea. We’re all in this together.
I’D LOVE TO SUPPORT YOU: I have been facilitating transformational events for women for 25+ years and love creating magical, connective retreats that blend the mystical and practical. We just updated our 2017 events schedule–look for a one-day or weekend retreat in your area or bring me in to lead an event for your organization or team. Learn more. PS Feeling called to empower other women? Join our 14 year-old global community of women supporting women and become a RTA-Certified Facilitator (enjoy $100 off through 4/30 plus a private coaching session with me).
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance speaker/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Offering custom self-renewal workshops/retreats, training, books/telecourses and individual career coaching her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining Personal Renewal Groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 15 year-old son. More on her background here.
Photo: Women from around the globe attend our self-renewal retreats at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in the Berkshire Mountains (MA). Here my three friends/teaching assistant, Valerie, Jill and Nicole pause for a group hug.